Working towards making muscle function assessments easier and pain free

Working towards making muscle function assessments easier and pain free

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Hello, my name is Judith Bilgorai and I am a first year PhD student, funded by the MND Association, at King’s College London.

I work in the SPiQE lab under the supervision of Dr James Bashford and Prof Chris Shaw. SPiQE stands for surface potential quantification engine – simply put it is a method of detecting activity from a specific type of muscle recording.

Because the gradual damage to motor neurons in MND causes muscle wasting and weakness until the muscles stop working, Motor Unit Number Estimate (MUNE) assessments have been developed to count the number of active motor units remaining in a muscle or muscle group and monitor the motor unit loss in MND. A motor unit is the combination of a motor neuron and all of the muscle fibres that it stimulates. Each muscle contains multiple motor units.

At the moment, people living with MND have to attend clinic every 2-3 months to get these assessments done, which can be difficult and time-consuming as mobility becomes more of an issue. The assessments themselves involve delivering electrical stimulations, and sometimes a needle inserted into the muscles, and are extremely uncomfortable or painful for the person undergoing them.

Making assessments easier and pain free

Our lab is researching the possibility of a MUNE technique that would be both home-based, so no need for clinic visits, and free of electrical stimulation and therefore non-invasive and pain free. It would also be possible to obtain data more frequently than every 2-3 months meaning disease progression could be tracked and monitored more often, making it valuable for clinical trials that are assessing the effectiveness of new treatments.

You can listen to Judith talk more about her work in the video below, and we look forward to hearing an update when the study is completed.

With thanks to Judith Bilgorai for writing this guest blog article for us. Judith presented her work at MND EnCouRage UK 2022, held at the University of Northampton, 19-20 July.

The MND Association’s vision is a world free from MND. Realising this vision means investing more in research, further developing partnerships with the research community, funding bodies and industry, while ensuring that advances in understanding and treating MND are communicated as quickly and effectively as possible. Our Research Development team, composed of 11 members, work hard to achieve this. Principally, the Research Information team within this are involved in communication activities including this MND Research blog.